Angular vs. React: An Epic Battle for Developer Mind Share

Peter Wayner | Info World | March 9, 2017

When the boss says it’s time to pour data into the screens of a bazillion visitors to your website, you have dozens of options for getting up and running fast. In the old days, most work was done on the server, but today much of the heavy lifting has been pushed to the client, making for a zippier, more interactive experience, because the client often has cycles to spare. There are a number of tools for client-side code that shoulder the job of laying out the data and interacting with the user. Two of the latest leading contenders are Angular and React, a pair of open source projects from Google and Facebook, respectively.

Angular and React are great tools for delivering complex, data-driven web apps and websites. But they offer distinct approaches, the kind of differences that generate long philosophical debates between coders. When you launch a project with Angular, much of the CRUD work has already been done for you. Most mechanisms for creating, updating, and deleting data objects are baked in. All you have to do is give the objects and their respective fields proper names, then fiddle with the CSS rules for displaying them. The structure is already in place for creating and manipulating data in these fields. In other words, Angular is a full framework, an empty vessel awaiting your brilliance.

Many React detractors say it’s just a library—merely a collection of routines for popping data onto the screen. But isn’t that true of every JavaScript file that makes its way to a browser? What they really mean is that React is more a set of tools with fewer assumptions of how you’re going to structure your page. React doesn’t offer a complete vision but provides the means for you to build your own vision quickly and efficiently. There’s power in that flexibility. And for those who don’t need a prepackaged vision, only a little help with the heavy lifting, being “just a library” makes React a great tool...